Print deadlines mean that I am writing this before the release of the 1939 Register, so my comments on that will have to wait for now.
A recent visitor to the Research Room asked where he could find the electoral registers for Staple Hill in the 1930s. After some digging, we discovered that they are available at Gloucestershire Archives in Gloucester. The next morning, there was a major announcement from Findmypast (www.findmypast.co.uk) that electoral registers for England & Wales from 1832 to 1932 were being made available online.
You will need to work out yourself how to use this new database, but it is obviously not complete for the years stated and to search it effectively you will need to put in as much information as possible. You also need to bear in mind that there were different types of qualification for the various elections, and that unmarried women and widows were entitled to vote in local elections. Having said all that, this can be a useful way of finding out where people were living at dates between the censuses, although you will not have the names of other family members to help you identify the correct person.
Findmypast have released many other interesting datasets recently, and there is no space to describe them all. Of particular interest are British Prisoners of War 1939-1945, Probate Records for England & Wales 1858-1959, and School Records. Searching Findmypast recently, I also found datasets for Somerset Marriages post 1754, and Somerset Electoral Registers 1832-1914.
Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk) have only released a small number of new datasets in recent months, and a search of Suffragettes Arrested 1906-1914 gave a nil result for both Bristol and Bath. Apprentices Indentured in the Merchant Navy, 1824-1910 has many local listings, although the sparse details given may not be as helpful as one would like.
Ancestry’s updated dataset of non-conformist baptisms contains information from Dr Williams Library and other sources. The detail provided can vary, but the record for George Acland Ames, who was born in 1827, gives the full date, his parent’s names, his mother’s parent’s names, his place of birth at Rodney House, Clifton, and the signatures of the two witnesses, one of whom is the doctor. Note that this is a birth record; the record of his baptism at Lewins Mead Chapel is also available.
It’s always good to come across local information online. The parish registers for Keynsham & Saltford are available at www.keysalthist.org.uk/online.htm. These should be more accurate than the transcriptions currently available on FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/), or on Ancestry, which has sourced a lot of information from FamilySearch. If you are missing someone in Gloucestershire in the 1841 census, it may be worth looking at FreeCen (http://freecen.org.uk) where the latest additions include Almondsbury, Winterbourne and other local parishes.
I was tracing details of a clergyman recently, and remembered The Clergy Database (http://theclergydatabase.org.uk/). It covers the period 1540 – 1835 and only includes the Church of England, but contains a wealth of information. If you search for a person, you can discover their education, ordination and the livings held. Clicking on a living will show details of the parish and the clergymen who have been there. The site is free.
Manorial records are often difficult to trace, although they appear to offer so much information about the lives of our ancestors. The Manorial Documents Register is maintained by The National Archives as a record of where manorial records are held. This may not be local to the manor. The Register does not cover all counties at present, but is a starting point to find out what survives and where it is. You can search at http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/manor-search.
The British Newspaper Archive (http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/) now has the Bristol Evening Post for 1939. The difference between newspapers of this year and earlier ones is that the later ones contain photographs, albeit of poor quality. Depending on your age, you could even find yourself or your parents. Were you in the Pillar Box Club? Was your photo in the paper?
We are all aware now of the value of old newspapers in family history research and know those provided by many public library services and those available from The British Newspaper Archive. There are other sources, and these are summarised at Richard Heaton's Index to Digitalised British and Irish Newspapers, which has been updated. It can be found at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~dutillieul/BritishandIrishNews.html#England.
I have mentioned Deceased Online (https://www.deceasedonline.com) before. Much of the information comes from municipal cemeteries, and I am unaware of any local cemeteries being included. Some information is free, but you have to pay to see a scan of the burial register and other details of the grave. I was recently able to establish that my ancestor Daniel Kemp was buried in Ladywell Cemetery in London in 1894, but was concerned that he shares his grave with four other, unrelated, people buried the same day.
If you ever want to look back at the BAFHS website for 2005, or play Castle Colditz as you did on a ZX Spectrum back in 1983, then type archive.org into the search box on your computer. The site also gives access to millions of books in various libraries across the world. For example, I knew that the Allen County Public Library in Indiana had a big genealogical section and was able to access items such as Phillimore’s transcriptions of marriage records for Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Finally, if you are looking for a professional researcher to help you in your quest, then AGRA (Association of Genealogists & Researchers in Archives) has a new website at www.agra.org.uk.